GODWIN OTANG AJOM, CALABAR
On Tuesday, December 14, 2021, Senator Sandy Onor was at the secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Calabar, Cross River State, to meet members of the party, where he announced his intention to contest the governorship election.
At the meeting, Onor, a professor of history senator representing the Cross River Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly spoke on his capacity as took time to talk about his relationship between him and the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike.
In public, we run away from statements of truth and I urge you to be very vigilant because in our midst could be saboteurs. At the state levels, you must have candidates that can win. Please vote for credible candidates, candidates that can win, remove tribalism. Don’t say it is my sister’s son, it is not a time for tribalism.
If you fail with your mother’s brother or your mother’s sister or sister’s son, what has it profited you? Okay, because we belong to the same cult group? What is our business with your cultism? This is politics! ‘Na who e help?’ As they say in the local lingua? Go for the person who can win. I was state chairman of centre party many years ago, we closed our offices every Thursday and went into the field. Ben Efi was my deputy state chairman; Ekpo Okon was my state secretary.
Every Thursday, we will close our offices as young men; we went out to the field to work. We said we were going to change Cross River for good. One of those times, we agreed as a party that we would deny Alex Irek and his brother the ticket for the Obubra chairmanship because Alex had started spreading false rumours about us. I just came from the university, I was barely 30. Whatever resources we had, were presented before all of us and drove our party with it. So when we started conspiring, a certain Mr Ikobi, I don’t know if he is late now, we agreed as a team that we would punish them; we were not going to give them the ticket. Every weekend as we close the office, I will lead by example, I will drive home to my constituency and campaign underground. As I pass, I will be asking, ‘who is the most popular candidate?’ I schooled in Obubra, I did St. Francis and St. Brendan, all in Obubra. I have friends in Obubra.
So I will stop at Obubra and ask them, ‘who is the most popular candidate? I will go to Oyadama, I will ask them,’who will win this chairmanship here? They said na Alex Irek” Everywhere we went, they said it is Alex Irek.
That was how I will go to Ochorn, Iyamoyung. When I was coming back from Ikom, I would pass to Obubra headquarters. I came back and summoned the state exco and I said Okiri, Ekpo, please you people should come, something has happened, something has happened but we have to give him the ticket. We have Alex the ticket. He won in nine wards out of the 11 wards of Obubra. John Okpa won in his Ofonbogha, my late friend, Raymond Obeten won in his Ofadugha. Unfortunately, they manipulated the system. Those with two wards won over the man with nine. We went to court they could not avail us but they knew that NCPN won the election. I was state chairman of NCPN. NCPN was like fire. Young people; one time I sent my publicity secretary to go and conduct elections for nomination for chairmanship, he got to the place and ran back to me and said ‘ oga, what I saw in Calabar south, I cannot do it, I saw Alausa, he was wearing helmet. Those were the days where Akambaba was tested against Essien Ayi. Unfortunately, he met a man that is above his match.
In this state, I am part of the evolution of the politics of Cross River, at least from 1990. By 1999, I was already full grown, I was an active participant; I was chairman of Etung, I was chairman of chairmen, I was deputy national president of ALGON. Apart from being a professor of history, nobody can tell me the evolution of the politics of Cross River.
I am an active participant in the evolution of our politics. You cannot lie to me. So today, when I hear people talking about zoning, I’m asking, have they been participating in politics different from what I have been participating?
Please listen to me, so that if I say anything that is wrong, you will bring up your facts. After we had left the politics of NCPN and DPN and UNCP, we metamorphosed into two different parties, PDP and APP. In PDP, Donald Duke ran against the iconic Kanu Agabi, Donald from the south, Kanu from the north. Please where is zoning there?
Zoning refers to a situation where you agree that this position at a time belongs to this zone exclusively. That is the meaning of zoning.
Some people have come up to say that Sandy claims he is leading people with contacts and connections; don’t you see our own contacts and connections? Some of us have had ceremonies here and governors have come.
So it is a question of my Mercedez is bigger than yours. That is why you are complaining now; because Nyesom Nwike is the single most impactful character in the PDP in Nigeria today.
He doesn’t necessarily have money more than any other person but loves the PDP and he has demonstrated it. From the days of Alimodu Sherrif who wanted to sell this party and many other instances, it is Wike who has fought for this party almost single handedly.
He did not support Atiku, but Atiku won the PDP primary in 2019. He was the governor who stood up for Atiku more than all the other governors put together. These are facts.
When our party started going down under Uche Secondus, people were no longer happy. He was the one who had to go and tell him. Now, the PDP is on the path of success come 2023.
In our party, we still have a lot of challenges and Nyesom, Wike is willing to step in. Please gentlemen and ladies, those of you who know other aspirants, please tell them not to be coming to your house every time, calling somebody’s name that is bigger than you as if you are a boxer. Have you ever seen a boxer who says that another boxer is stronger than him?
If there is anything we have to do in this party, it is to salute Nyesom and salute him for what he has done.
It was not Nyesom(Wike) who made me chairman of Etung. It was not Nyesom who made me chairman of chairmen, it was not Nyesom who made me DG fantastic, it was not Nyesom who made me commissioner in this state twice, but I feel very privileged to have Nyesom as my friend. People say all politics is local, tell them that it is true, but tell them that Professor Sandy also says that all politics is universal. Even if it is a councillor you want to be, most times it is somebody from another ward who makes you the councillor you want to be. Many people have become local government chairmen because of support they got from a friend who is from another area.
A politician from Cross River State must have roots and tentacles from all political wards. Apart from the God factor, one of the other reasons why I feel confident running and winning is because I have Efik friends. I have friends and contacts and stakeholders in the south. I am not a limited phenomenon. I am not. I cut across the state; I have built alliances. That is why I tell people, if you have political eyes, you will see who is likely to emerge candidate of this party.
“So ladies and gentleman, I have spoken to violence. We don’t need violence, all we need is cooperation and collaboration because at the end of the day, we all need to be together to win. Secondly, I am saying that we need people here and outside of here. From Clement Ebri to Donald Duke’s time to Imoke’s time, nobody ever became governor who just depended on factors within Cross River State. So, I promise you people that I am always with you.
So I, Sandy Ojang Onor, professor of history, senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the one they call the original caterpillar, formally declare for the position of governor of Cross River State, come 2023.